First Nations demand apology over video about open-net pen salmon farms

Click to play video: 'First Nations group demands apology from Willam Shatner and Ryan Reynolds'
First Nations group demands apology from Willam Shatner and Ryan Reynolds
A First Nations group is calling for actors William Shatner and Ryan Reynolds to apologize for a foul-mouthed, viral video that was aimed at the salmon farming industry. Sarah MacDonald reports. – Jun 24, 2024

A coalition of B.C. First Nations is calling on two of Canada’s highest-profile actors to apologize.

At issue is a video, featuring William Shatner delivering an “f-bomb” filled rant that takes aim at open-net pen salmon farms.

The video was produced for the advocacy group Pacific Wild by Maximum Effort, a production company started by Ryan Reynolds.

The video was released just one day after the federal government said it would extend the deadline to end net-pen farming in B.C. until 2029.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised in 2019 to phase out the controversial open-water industry, and the federal government had set a target of 2025.

Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier and Energy Minister Jonathan Wilkinson revealed the new timeline in twin announcements in Vancouver and Ottawa on Wednesday, saying licence extensions to 2029 would allow for a “responsible, realistic, and achievable transition.”

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“The industry knew changes would be made and I think all of us together, we will co-build sustainable fisheries for our population for the future,” Lebouthillier said.

The new five-year extensions will come with stricter conditions of licence, while after July 1 only marine or land-based closed containment facilities will be considered.

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However, the Coalition of First Nations for Fin-Fish Stewardship said the video is “hurtful and shameful.”

“This is a classic example of a rich, elite, removed, urban white men overriding the wishes of vulnerable Indigenous communities, a reoccurring theme within the Liberal government and recent decisions made by politicians like Minister Wilkinson,” the organization said in a statement.

“We have been the stewards of our lands, waters, and elements for over 10,000 years, including wild Pacific salmon, the life blood of our people. Due to the impact of colonization on wild salmon stocks, we have had to include salmon farming alongside salmon stewardship to fill the economic gap caused by the decline of wild salmon.”

In the video, Shatner is joined by former NHL player and Vancouver Canucks ambassador Kirk McLean and actor and director Mary Galloway, who is a member of the Cowichan Nation.

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However, Chief Bob Chamberlin, a wild salmon advocate, told Global News that many people he has spoken to liked the video and thought it made a relevant point.

“We look to anyone that’s going to amplify this critical issue to do so,” he said.

“And I believe that Ryan Reynolds has retweeted this, particular video. We welcome his support as we did, others. And it’s just time that we ensure the government is clear that we make sure that wild salmon is looked after.”

Chamberlin added that the big question that needs to be answered is where are the new regulations, where are the conditions of licence, what are the milestones and principles that are going to be used by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans during the five years?

“The First Nations that make the decision to embrace any industry do so on the balance of their rights infringement, by and large,” he said. “What I do question is the impacts it has as to the vast majority of First Nations’ Aboriginal rights to fish.”

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